Thursday, August 4, 2011

Worship for Pentecost 8 - 2011

Thursday after Pentecost 7
August 4, 2011

The Lord be with you

Once again this Sunday Pastor James Roseman will be filling in for me (Pastor Rickert) as I visit one of our sister congregation in our circuit as the Circuit Counselor for Circuit 18. Rev. Roseman has shared the Lord’s word with us on several occasions and everyone agrees that his sermons are excellent.

This coming Sunday is the Eight Sunday after Pentecost. We will be using the Service of Prayer and Preaching for our liturgy (page 260). In this service we use the appointed Psalm for the Day, which is Psalm 145 (antiphon v. 19). The other appointed lessons are: Zechariah 9:9-12, Romans 7:14-25a, and Matthew 11:25-30. At this point in time I have not heard from Pastor Roseman what his sermon title is or if he desires any changes in the hymns I have already picked out. All this is to say that some of the following information is tentative.

Our opening hymn will be “Today Your Mercy Calls Us” (LSB 915). The sermon hymn is “The Gospel Shows the Father’s Grace” (LSB 580). Our closing hymn is the one we are learning this month, “Rise, Shine, You People” (LSB 825). The video below is of our opening hymn. This is one of those great hymns that has been in each of our English hymnals. It was first published in 1861 by Oswald Allen. Allen was an Englishman, a banker, and a life-long invalided.

As noted above, I will not be at Lamb of God this week. My adult Bible class, which is going through the Gospel of Matthew, will therefore be taking a break. We will resume Sunday, August 14, at 9:00 AM. As always, everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons

Zechariah 9:9-12: Zechariah lived and worked just after the Jews returned from their Babylonian captivity. He encouraged the people in the rebuilding of the temple and looked forward to the coming of Jesus. The Lutheran Study Bible (Concordia Publishing House) has Luther’s excellent summary of the book and, if you have a copy of this study Bible, I recommend reading what Luther said.

Our reading is often read on Palm Sunday, as it is a prophecy of this event. As is so often the case with the prophets, Zechariah uses poetic language. In verse 10 we are told that the Lord will “cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem.” Ephraim was the leading tribe of Israel and Jerusalem was the leading city of Judea. By using these two names the Lord points to all the people of God. Instruments of war have no place in the kingdom of God. Instead Christ comes to bring peace. This kingdom will extend to the “ends of the earth,” meaning pretty much what Jesus said in the Great Commission. The “blood of my covenant” (v. 11) refers to the blood Jesus shed on the cross and by this our enemies are defeated, we are set free and we are restored.

Romans 7:14-25a: Paul describes the struggle that all believers face – we want to live a God pleasing life but “something” inside us rebels against the will of God. That “something” is called in this reading “sin” and “flesh.” The word “flesh” is being used, as the theologians say, in an “ethical” way. What that means is that Paul is not talking about being human. Jesus was human but did not have sin dwelling in him. Paul means our fallen or corrupted human nature. On the Last Day this “sin nature” will be removed, leaving us fully human without any adulterations brought on by sin. In other words, we will be purely human as God intended us. As baptized Christians, united with Christ, we have a new nature, one that delights in living as God intended. That is to say, we are truly human according to our new nature. As Paul presents it, these two natures war within us. Our victory is found in Jesus Christ (v 25). Some might wonder why Paul doesn’t expand on this more. The reason is that he has already done so. We are united to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus by our baptism, as Paul has already said. We live in the power of the Gospel, as Paul has already said. The strength to live according to our new nature is found in our connection to Jesus. We are powered by the forgiveness of Christ.

Matthew 11:25-30: Chapter 11 is taken from our Lord’s “preaching tour.” The chapter opens with John the Baptist, who is in prison, hearing about what Jesus is doing and he sends some of his disciples to Jesus with a question. Jesus sends comfort to John, assuring him (and John’s disciples) that Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah. After these envoys leave, Jesus speaks of the importance of John and how the leaders of the Jews simply cannot be satisfied with the Kingdom of God because that Kingdom does not conform to their sinful desires. Jesus then speaks of all the cities he has visited that rejected him. They are more hard of heart than Sodom, and their fate will be worse. This brings us to verse 25.

Here we have some of the sweetest words for Christians, but repulsive words to those who reject Jesus. The Gospel of Christ has always “connected” with those who see their spiritual poverty. The proud have always had problems with it. That is because the Gospel makes us completely dependent of Jesus. Hear Jesus is praying and thanks the Father for having revealed his truth to “little children.” Helpless children are not, typically, the class of people the rich and powerful identify with. Jesus also claims here that the only way someone can know the Father is if Jesus reveals the Father to them. Again this is not something the self-reliant, pull yourself up by your own bootstrap, people of the world like. Surely, they think, I must do something to merit God’s approval. Also the exclusive claim of Jesus, that he is the only way to know the Father, is rejected by many who arrogantly claim that Jesus is being arrogant. But these words have always had a great appeal to those “who labor and are heavy laden.” To all of these Jesus promises rest. It is no wonder that when the Gospel first penetrates a new area it is typically the oppressed, the downtrodden, the marginalized, the poor, who first come to faith.


• This will be the last Sunday to pick-up a backpack for our annual “Adopt a Backpack” effort. The backpacks are in the hallway and supply lists are on the bulletin board above the backpacks. (There are seven backpacks left.) These backpacks are to be filled with the supplies and returned to church no later than Sunday, August 14. Pastor will deliver them to Jesse Boyd Elementary School that week.

• The LWML Bake Sale is this coming Sunday. Lots of good “eats” will be available and supporting the missions of our LWML is always a God pleasing thing to do. So bring some extra cash Sunday.

Well, I pray we all have a wonderful time with the Lord Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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